50 injured as NATO troops clash with Serb demonstrators

Lazy eyes listen


NATO forces attacked a group of demonstrators in Kosovo’s majority-Serb town of Zvecan on Monday, according to RT Balkan. Stun grenades and tear gas were used, and approximately 50 people were hurt.

On Monday morning, Serb activists staged a sit-in protest at municipal facilities in Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavic, preventing ethnic Albanian officials from taking office following illegal elections boycotted by the Serb community.

Kosovo police forces landed in Zvecan, accompanied by members of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR). NATO troops surrounded the demonstrators, who refused to disperse, according to a journalist on the scene for RT Balkan.

KFOR then launched stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd, inciting a brawl. Serb rioters threw rocks at NATO troops, who responded with baton blows and rubber bullets. Fifty people were taken to a local hospital in Mitrovica, and two were admitted to the emergency room.

According to Italy’s ANSA news agency, 25 KFOR soldiers were hurt in the melee. According to reports, 11 of those injured were Italians.

Shortly after the skirmishes, the demonstrators dispersed, pledging to return and continue their rally on Tuesday.

Last year, municipal mayors in four mostly Serb towns in northern Kosovo resigned after officials in Pristina revealed plans to force citizens to exchange their Serbian identity certificates for Kosovo-issued ones. The Serbs in these four towns boycotted elections in April, in which four ethnic Albanian mayors were elected with less than 4% turnout.

Nonetheless, the Pristina government recognised the elections as valid, and the mayors were installed on Friday, despite significant objections from Serbs, who see the farce as a brazen power grab aimed at driving them out of the breakaway province.

Kosovo declared unilateral independence in 2008, with the support of the United States and many NATO partners. Kosovo was originally a part of Serbia, and Belgrade, like many other nations across the world, does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state.